International congress on Mathematics in Hyderabad

The once-in-a-four-year event is the world’s biggest congregation of mathematicians, which is being held for the first time in India.  In the last 100 years, it came to Asia only twice – Kyoto (1990) and Beijing (2002).
While the Field’s Medal is financially as rewarding as the Nobel prize, its prestige is no less. No Indian has ever won a Field’s Medal.  ''But three mathematicians of Indian-origin are among the serious candidate for the Field’s Medal at Hyderabad,” said M S Raghunathan, a mathematician from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai. The names of the shortlisted candidates, however, have not been disclosed.

Besides the Field's Medal, two other prestigious awards would be given away by President Pratibha Patil after inaugurating the congress on August 19.  They are the Nevalinna prize for work in mathematical aspects of computer science and Gauss prize for outstanding mathematical contribution that have found significant applications outside mathematics. None of these prizes too have ever been won by an Indian.

In 2002, the Nevalinna prize was bagged by Madhu Sudan, a mathematician of Indian-origin, said Raghunathan. At Hyderabad, a new prize would be instituted after S S Chern, a towering figure in geometry. Also chess wizard Vishwanathan Anand will be playing rapid chess with 40 mathematicians from all over the world.

Grigoriy Perelman

However, it is not clear at the moment whether the recluse genius Grigoriy Perelman who solved the 106-year-old Poincare conjecture would be coming to Hyderabad. Perelman lives with his mother in a tiny flat in St Petersburg and hardly attends conferences.

The organisers will write to Perelman but have no clue on his participation. The Russian genius is the only mathematician who ever refused to accept the Field’s Medal. Raghunathan said Perelman had turned down the million dollar Millennium Prize given to him by the Clay Institute, Cambridge for solving the Poincare conjecture.

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